What Beltway Republicans Need To Do
The premier source for
California political news
your part to do right by our troops.
They did the right thing for you.
tOR Talk Radio
When Everyone Needs to Do Better...
Platt Liebau] 9/5/05
In the wake
of Hurricane Katrina, pictures of suffering blanketed America’s
television screens last week – breaking the nation’s heart as nothing
has since the dark days immediately following 9/11.
In some ways,
this catastrophe is even worse. There is no enemy to pursue;
the hurricane on Sunday and the floods resulting from the levee
breaches on Tuesday is nothing if not a natural disaster. But
as the poor, sick, elderly and young languished in the city
for several days waiting for help to arrive, along with heartsick
sympathy and compassion, Americans began to feel understandable
frustration and anger at what seemed like the inexcusably slow
reaction time of the federal government.
Carol Platt Liebau - Senior
Platt Liebau is editorial director and a senior member of tOR and CRO editorial
boards. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator
based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News
Channel, MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable
and a variety of radio programs throughout the United States.
A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School,
Carol Platt Liebau also served as the first female managing
editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her web log can be found
[go to Liebau index]
as President Bush himself said, the federal response was “unacceptable.” And indeed, there will be many
questions about not only the apparent absence of any state and
local disaster preparedness, but also about why the federal government
couldn’t have done more, and sooner.
But it’s not only the local, state and federal government’s
response to the disaster that bears examination and amendment.
Unlike the unity and bipartisanship that characterized the political
response to 9/11, in this case – where it was apparent
another catastrophe wasn’t imminent – the political
grandstanding began before the city was evacuated and the dead
found and buried. .
Charges, recriminations and righteous denunciation
have thundered from the television from politicians of both
parties – when
they, the country and those suffering would have been better
served by purposeful determination and calm resolution. Many
members of the press, who reported courageously as the heartbreaking
events transpired, lapsed into hyperemotional temper tantrums
when it came time for analysis. One nadir occurred when CNN’s
Anderson Cooper berated Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) on the air,
because the Senator chose to remain calm and express appreciation – rather
than heaping vituperation – on those who were laboring
mightily to bring aid to the Gulf Coast.
Taking a cue from the press and politicians – many of
whom have attributed the lapses in government response to deliberate
racism and indifference to the poor – the left-wing partisans
were out within 48 hours of the disaster, spouting incendiary
allegations without a shred of evidence. Accusations characterized
more by their heat than their merit appeared on the internet,
including the following: Global warming caused the hurricane
(wrong); lack of federal funding doomed the levees and, by extension,
the city (although all the federal funding ever requested would
have only protected New Orleans from a less severe hurricane
than Katrina); the tax cuts created the funding loss that doomed
the levees (wrong; Army Corps of Engineer projects have been
underfunded since the Carter administration, and the tax cuts
actually increased revenues to the federal treasury last year);
and the war in Iraq created troop shortfalls that would otherwise
have been available for hurricane relief (wrong; Iraq accounts
for only 10.2 percent of the Army).
For some time, many have been decrying the bitter partisanship
that has marked American politics. For the most part, however,
it has always seemed that some partisanship is a benefit in a
democracy. It creates a marketplace of ideas, and the kind of
competition that prevents elected politicians of both parties
from becoming arrogant, corrupt or lazy.
But when hatred of those on the “other side” creates
a climate in which political finger-pointing, race-baiting and
recrimination take center stage even in a crisis, something is
seriously wrong. Most of all, the demagoguery obscures and marginalizes
the real questions that need to be addressed – and elicits
defensive reactions that inhibit real reform.
Perhaps all of us – local, state and federal government;
the press; and Americans generally – need to think about
how we can do better. tOR
Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst, commentator and
theOneRepublic / CaliforniaRepublic.org editorial
director based in San Marino, CA. Ms. Liebau also served
as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Her web log can be found at CarolLiebau.blogspot.com